In this years Headphone Shootout, due too the high demand, we have a new category: wireless. Wireless gives you better freedom, hence the rise in popularity. And we have some great models represented. They are the BeeWi BBH300 with a MSRP of $150, the JBL Synchros S400BT for $230 MSRP, and the Velodyne vBold with $350 MSRP.
The BeeWi BBH300 had a nice looking box with photos of the device, its specs, and magnetic cover that allowed you to open and see the headphones. They were mostly plastic in materials, with soft leather earpads. Quality of materials was good, as was the fit and finish. They were more of an on the ear design. Also included was a hard zipper case, airplane adaptor, 1/4" adapter, multiple cables, and a docking station. And they were pretty comfortable to wear.
|Frequency range||20Hz to 20000Hz|
|Sensitivity||100dB SPL max|
|Bluetooth Range||10 meter / 33 feet|
|Battery Life||18h play / 80h stand by|
|Color available||white / black|
|Accessories||Road-case, international power adapter, 80 cm Audio Cable, Airplane adapter...|
Listening to the BeeWi BBH300 was a different story. Pairing Bluetooth devices can yield mixed results. Some are more difficult to pair than others. This model seemed to be one of those products. I was unable to pair with 2 headphones, but was successful with my laptop. And while there is a cable included that would allow listening to them with a standard wired device, you may not want to. They sounded ok when used wirelessly, but sound quality takes a big hit when using them wired. And they were good for around 20 feet before you would get drops in audio.
Fresh Aire: Creatures of Levania sounded warm and oddly filtered/muffled with a lack of highs. Bass was there and had some depth but not much authority. The flute was there but did not have a lot of resolution and sounded far away. Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue, the clarinet sounded somewhat natural as did the horns, but they all sounded distant. Imaging was ok. The cymbals had some crispness to them. Junior Wells: Why Are People Like That, vocals sounded natural yet distance and recessed, almost like performing without a mic. The harmonica sounded natural with ok resolution. Justin Timberlake: Sexyback, bass was there and punchy in the upper midbass and again sounded recessed and had little depth or output. Vocals were again recessed and distant with the lead singer. Guitar sounded clear.
Fresh Aire: Creatures of Levania, bass had nice extension and good output and authority. Flute had good air with ok resolution. The strings also sounded natural. Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue clarinet sounded natural and only slightly distant. Imaging was ok as was the size of the soundstage. Horns and piano sounded natural. Junior Wells: Why Are People Like That, vocals were sufficiently natural as was the harmonica. The bass guitar had good extension and played with authority. Imaging was also good. Justin Timberlake: Sexyback, had nice bass extension and depth, and played with very good impact and authority. Vocals sounded natural with some resolution. Imaging was good again. Sound was much better wireless than they were wired.
Next up is the JBL Synchros S400BT. The JBL Synchros for a more traditional DJ style over the ear headphone design. The earpads were leather wrapped and over the ear design. Only the left earcup also had touch controls on the exterior. They were also a CES Innovations Award Honoree for 2014.
Features and Specs:
- Rated Power Input
- Frequency Response
- 10Hz – 22kHz
- Maximum SPL
- 115dB @ 30mW
- Premium 40mm drivers
- Depth (in)
- Depth (mm)
- Height (in)
- Height (mm)
- Width (in)
- Width (mm)
Last but not least is the Velodyne vBold, bluetooth wireless over-ear reference headphones. Velodyne has been known for their excellent home theater subwoofers. In recent years they have come into the headphone market and have people taking notice. The vBold are a rather large over the ear design.
Features and Specs:
Make a statement. vBold®Our wireless headphones offer Bluetooth® connectivity compatible with your iPhone®, iPod Touch®, iPad® or any Bluetooth® capable device. Wireless sound reproduction is accurate and true thanks to aptX® coding. A direct connect audio cable is included for optional wired connection.
In addition to the convenience of being wireless, the vBold can be folded up for compact storage. Now you can bring Velodyne’s legendary audio technology with you anywhere you go.
International artist, Marta Hall, created the signature style and shape of the vBold. You get the best in style with Velodyne’s accurate and true sound experience.
Built-in rechargeable battery
The vBold features a built-in rechargeable battery that allows for 10+ hours of talk and music listening time. A micro USB charging cable is included for charging your headphone.
• Outstanding wireless sound quality utilizing apt-X® coding
• Bluetooth® v2.1 connectivity with >30 foot range
• Near Field Communication (NFC) Technology
• Intuitive controls
• High-quality microphone for phone & online video games
• Energy efficient design with exceptional battery life
• Collapsible design for easy storage
• Available in 2 stylish colors: Matte Black & Satin Silver
• 4 foot, 3.5 mm (3/8") audio bypass cable
• 1/8" to 1/4" plug adapter
• Micro USB charging cable
• Carrying pouch
Driver size: 40 mm
Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Sensitivity: 105 dB/1 kHz/1 mW
Frequency range: 2.4Ghz – 2.4835GHz
Transmission range: Up to 10 m (33’)
Power: Lithium-ion polymer battery, 3.7V/430mAh (rechargeable)
Operating temperature: 0 C – 40 C
Supports Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR, A2DP v1.2, AVRCP v1.0, HSP v1.2, HFP v1.6
Supports codecs SBC, AAC, apt-X
100 hours standby
10 hours talk and music
1.5 hours recharge time
The box is a more premium glossy print look with pics of the headphones, and their features. Opening the box revealed the headphones, along with a simple card with instructions. Also included were a cloth carrying case, and two cables. One cable was for charging, and the other was for listening to standard non-wireless devices. Materials used in construction were mostly plastic, with soft leather earpads. While they appeared to be plastic, the finish seemed to have more of a soft feel to it. Quality of materials used were very good, as was the fit and finish. They felt durable as well, but not quite as durable as the JBL's. They were also very comfortable to wear.
All in all, we have some good wireless products, based on the MSRP. The BeeWi BBH300 was only $150 and gave a lot of functionality with the included docking station. While sound was just "ok," you have to also realize that part of the money for that goes into the docking station and wireless functionality. The sound was not the same when listening wired, but they are more ment for use wirelessly. The JBL Synchos S400BT had the performance I was expecting from JBL. The same can also be said about the Velodyne vBold. Based on their design, features, quality, and performance, the JBL Synchos S400BT has earned our Highly Recommended Award, and the Velodyne vBold has earned our Editor's Choice Award. For more features and complete specs check out their websites at www.bee-wi.com, www.jbl.com, and www.velodyne.com.
This completes this year's Headphone Shootout. We had some great products from some just as good manufactures. And the wireless category was fun. Most products were priced right and performed as expected based on their MSPR. However there were some, such as the Velodyne vBold that really surprised, with their wireless performance. Hopefully this gave some great ideas on some purchase decisions. Happy Listening!